Unlocking different manifestations of reading impairments in opaque and shallow orthographies

Unlocking different manifestations of reading impairments in opaque and shallow orthographies

First Author: Taeko N. Wydell -- Brunel University
Abstract / Summary: 

In this symposium we discuss how visual and phonological impairments are manifested in developmental dyslexic (DD) readers of alphabetic and non-alphabetic languages with deep (English, Chinese) and shallow (Spanish, Japanese Kana) orthographies. For alphabetic languages, English (deep) DD-readers showed dual visual-phonological impairments captured in speed and accuracy, while Spanish (shallow) DD-readers showed a phonological deficit in reading speed only, with greater errors in spelling. For non-alphabetic languages, Japanese DD-readers showed impairments in both reading speed and accuracy when reading in Kana (shallow), and these impairments were phonological in nature. Interestingly reading skills of Chinese (deep), especially those with DD, improved when they were taught Chinese characters in an analytical manner – that is, characters with the same visual configuration patterns were grouped together by phonetic radicals.

Symposium Papers: 

Double trouble - visual and phonological impairments in English dyslexic readers

First Author/Chair:Daniel Roberts -- Brunel University London

Purpose – Recent investigations have begun to suggest that developmental deficits in the acquisition of reading may also co-occur with visual processing deficits, yet these have received little attention compared to phonologically based linguistic deficits. The novelty of the current study was to further explore the nature of phonological and visual processing per se in developmental dyslexia (DD), and the extent to which an impairment in visual processing may also characterise DD reading of alphabetic orthographies.

Method – A group of 18 individuals with DD participated. All were native speakers of English and in receipt of a formal diagnosis of dyslexia. The DD group were compared to a matched group of typically developing readers (TDR) on a cognitive battery including a number of non-orthographic visual, phonological, and auditory tasks.

Results – The DD group performed significantly worse on phonologically tasks than the TDR group, which confirms previous evidence. More critically, the DD group were also impaired on non-orthographic visual processing tasks, and disproportionately so for visuospatial tasks and when discriminating between novel visual patterns, particularly in speed of responding. Discriminant function analysis also revealed that a phonological and visual task from the battery could successfully discriminate 92% of individuals with DD from TDR.

Conclusions – In addition to phonologically based deficits, individuals with DD also have difficulties in processing visual materials, best captured in speed. The dual phonological and visual impairments suggest that DD is a complex disorder characterised by deficits to different primary systems that underpin reading.

Manifestation of reading/writing difficulties in Spanish dyslexic children: Phonology is still the key

First Author/Chair:Francisca Serrano -- University of Granada
Additional authors/chairs: 
Maria Teresa Bajo

Purpose – Spanish is a shallow orthography similar to that of Italian. This study explores how reading/writing difficulties in Spanish dyslexic children relate to transparency and writing code complexities – that is consistent grapheme-phoneme-correspondence (GPC), and inconsistent phoneme-grapheme-correspondence (PGC).

Method – 31 dyslexic, 31 chronological-age-matched and 31 reading-level-matched, totaling 93 Spanish children participated in the study. All were tested on reading and spelling tasks where stimuli were chosen according to the Spanish orthographic code complexities, i.e., PGC rules (digraph, contextual influence, and position influence), inconsistence, silent letter H, stress mark, and consonant cluster.

Results – Dyslexic children showed severe difficulties especially in spelling/writing that were modulated by the GPC complexities. This deficit seems to be phonological in nature since it is more evident in phonological processing-demanding structures – that is, the consonant cluster and digraph. Moreover, dyslexic children’s reading difficulties were shown in speed rather than accuracy as seen in German dyslexic children.

Conclusions – The findings support the phonological deficit hypothesis rather than visuo-spatial impairment hypothesis for dyslexic children in Spanish. The results also highlight the relevance of written language features for dyslexia detection. Implications for intervention programs for reading will be discussed using the example of an evidence-based Android app for Spanish, Galexia. Galexia focuses on reading fluency and phonological skills intervention, and it has shown its effectiveness in improving the reading skills of reading impaired people of different ages.

Speed is not everything in reading syllabic Hiragana and Katakana among Japanese speaking children with developmental dyslexia

First Author/Chair:Akira Uno -- University of Tsukuba, Japan

Purpose – The Japanese writing-system consists of syllabic-Kana including Hiragana and Katakana, and logographic morphologic Kanji. Unlike Kanji, the character-sound relationship with Kana is transparent. It has been argued that in reading transparent alphabetic orthographies reading speed is more critical and relevant than accuracy. When reading transparent orthographies, dyslexic children often show no accuracy impairment. In this study we investigated these assumptions using transparent Japanese Kana.

Method – 102 (89 primary and 13 junior-high school) Japanese children with developmental dyslexia participated in this study. They were tested on intelligence, vocabulary size as well as reading/writing skills, phonological abilities, automatization and visual cognitive abilities. Their performance was compared to the data from 100-200 per grade, chronological-age matched typically developing children.

Results – Dyslexic children were no different from controls on intelligence and vocabulary size. Performance of the dyslexic children was significantly poorer than controls in tests of reading/writing skills, phonological abilities, automatization and visual cognitive abilities. A closer look at the reading performance on Hiragana and Katakana revealed that the dyslexic children were impaired not only with reading speed but also reading accuracy.

Conclusions – Japanese dyslexic children’s accuracy was impaired when reading transparent Hiragana and Katakana. This demonstrates that not only reading speed but also accuracy matters when Japanese dyslexic children read transparent Hiragana and Katakana.

Configuration patterns matter in reading Chinese? – analytic learning is more effective than whole-word learning especially for children with reading impairments

First Author/Chair:Fuk Chen Ho -- Education University of Hong Kong

Purpose – The purpose of this study was to test two different instructional effects on children with reading impairments when learning to read Chinese characters.

Method – The analytic and whole-word methods were used to teach 20 Chinese characters to 40 primary school children aged eight to nine. Half of these children were identified as having reading impairments. Using the analytic method, characters were grouped according to their regularity and/or patterns of geometric configuration features. For example, the phonetic radical 青 (tsing1) meaning ‘blue (sky)’ or ‘green (plant)’ was highlighted for analysis in a word family of characters with the same phonetic radical, the pronunciation of which is either identical or similar to the phonetic radical, e.g., 清 (tsing1) meaning ‘clear’, 晴 (tsing4) meaning ‘(weather) fine’, 精 (zing1) meaning ‘smart’, and請 (tsing2) meaning ‘to ask’.

Results – Teaching characters under the analytic condition was more effective and efficient than that under the whole-word condition. Although performance of the children with reading impairments was significantly lower than that of the typically-developing children for both instructional methods, the analytic condition was more effective than the whole-word approach.

Conclusions – Highlighting the orthographic and phonological features of Chinese characters to Chinese primary school children, particularly those with reading impairments, was important. Reading performance was significantly enhanced when children were taught analytically Chinese characters.

Unlocking different manifestations of reading impairments in opaque and shallow orthographies

First Author/Chair:DISCUSSANT Taeko Wydell -- Brunel University

In this symposium we discuss how visual and phonological impairments are manifested in developmental dyslexic (DD) readers of alphabetic and non-alphabetic languages with deep (English, Chinese) and shallow (Spanish, Japanese Kana) orthographies. For alphabetic languages, English (deep) DD-readers showed dual visual-phonological impairments captured in speed and accuracy, while Spanish (shallow) DD-readers showed a phonological deficit in reading speed only, with greater errors in spelling. For non-alphabetic languages, Japanese DD-readers showed impairments in both reading speed and accuracy when reading in Kana (shallow), and these impairments were phonological in nature. Interestingly reading skills of Chinese (deep), especially those with DD, improved when they were taught Chinese characters in an analytical manner – that is, characters with the same visual configuration patterns were grouped together by phonetic radicals.